Sunday, April 26, 2015


Some crazy weather at the farm.  As you might have read on yesterday's post, 2nd Family (who lives out there full time) said that in all the years they've been there, they've never seen the wind so bad.  So here are some pictures: 

Upon driving there, we saw this huge limb that had fallen onto the road, someone had pulled it over and put it up on the guardrail.

This is a neighbor's fence, the entire fence line, several hundred feet, that had been blown over.

We lost a few shingles.  These are all I could find but that's not to say we don't have more that were blown out of the yard.  We will be having a roofer come check things out.

Over by the newly cleared forest-like area, we lost some large limbs.  More stuff for the burn pile that we can't burn because it's been too wet for three weeks now!

Another inch of rain over the last couple of days means standing water everywhere and yet again, a muddy mess.  No mowing, no edging, no gardening of any kind.

This is our biggest tree loss.  A huge tree (Hackberry I believe) that was completely upended and fell right over,  narrowly missing the power line to the house (and also missing our peach and apple trees).  Time for some chainsaw work.

Here is another one that was down in the front yard along the driveway.  More chainsaw work and more stuff for the burn pile.

This was on a neighbor's property next to us, a huge tree leaning over.  We're glad we don't have to deal with this kind of large tree.

This one is pretty scary, it's a neighbor down the road that had his entire carport wrapped up and twisted around a tree and itself  The National Weather Service is actually coming to look at this damage (and in the area) to see if it was 'tornadic' so they can classify it as that.

Several neighbors out there are saying it was a small tornado, perhaps an F-0 or F-1.  That's what the NWS does, it looks at this chart and compares damage in the area.  It could have just been straight line winds but some people said they saw rotation in the clouds just prior to the damage. 

Whatever it was, it was most definitely a close call.  

We had been casually shopping for generators, more like window shopping, but this makes us move that up near the top of the list for purchases.


Big 2nd Family told us, in 20 years of living out there, they had never seen winds this strong.  Some local news stations reported winds in excess of 70mph.  2nd Family said it looked and felt like it could have been the beginnings of a funnel cloud, so they actually got into the middle of their house in a closet, just in case.

No damage to us, nothing major, but quite a bit of limbs down on parts of the property and lots of trees down on other properties and power lines.

The hives are OK.

The house is OK.

More than 100 homes in the area didn't have power most of the day but, thankfully, our house only lost power for a couple of hours.

More of an update later.  It's been a long day and just now getting to sleep.

Saturday, April 25, 2015


Recently, I was over at Leigh's lovely and inspiring blog "5 Acres and a Dream". She and I installed our bees at the same time and she's a new beekeeper like me.  I was reading about her experiences and she mentioned that their bee garden could be seen from their kitchen window.  

That got us to thinking...what can we see from our kitchen window?
Farmhouse kitchen window view
We were excited to realize that we can see the bee yard from the kitchen window too!  We've always liked that we could see the garden from with window (and this is also looking out onto the front porch) but now we can add the bee yard to that view as well.  Yay!

Our plans were to be off to the farm today but this is the sky in town this morning when we got up, and below is the radar image at the farm.

Ugh.  2nd Family has already let us know that there has been a lot of bad weather out there and more coming...we're always anxious to make sure everything is OK at the farm in big storms when we aren't there and thankfully we have them to check on things for us.  As soon as it calms down, "J" is going to check on the hives.  They should be pretty stable but we still worry.

Looks like no zen machine time or yard work today either, sigh.

Update later!

Friday, April 24, 2015


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Found these really nice table runners at a garage sale the other day and you know I like to share a great deal! 

This one is not handmade (would be amazing if it was) but even as a mass produced table runner, it was just too pretty to pass up.  We put it on the table at the farm to see what it looked like.

It looked great and was the perfect length.

This is the other one.  Not sure what you call this, it's also a mass produced one but it has some silk screened type flowers all along the length of it. 

It too fit perfectly, my guess is the owner had the same seized table at one point.  Wish there had been a whole box full of different ones, ha.  

Thursday, April 23, 2015


The other night, I had a dream about the hives.  Isn't it fascinating how something we've never dreamed about before suddenly becomes a part of our subconscious when we get it?  In my dream, I went to the hives and they were empty.  Not a bee around.  So of course, I started worrying, ha.  Then I started worrying about the queens and if they had gotten out of their cages.  

So, I asked my boss for a 1/2 day off today.  He's so wonderful and fair and he said of course I could take the time off, especially after I said it was to check the bees.  He's excited about the bees and everyone at the office is hoping for some honey at some future point. 

Queen bee in a cage
Here is one of the queens in her cage from the day I installed them in their hives.  You can see how she's in this little box and that white, fluffy stuff at one end is the candy sugar plug that she, and the other bees on the outside, eat through to get her out.  Sometimes (rarely) this doesn't work, so that's why I was worried.

So today I took a half day off and drove to the farm from work.  I decided to put on the bee suit (no sense in pushing my luck) and checked the hives...

Queen cages
...the queens were out!!!!  YAY!!!  The sugar plugs were completely gone and eaten (food for the bees!).  I removed them as they were stapled to the frame.  I pulled out the frame in one hive and I saw the queen moving around!  Such a thrilling moment.  She's got a bright yellow spot painted on her so she's easy to see.  Wherever she was moving, the workers were following closing behind.

Bees in the hive
They were even starting to build honeycomb near where the queen cage was (you can see that above).  I didn't want to mess with them too much, this early on, they should still be left alone for a bit longer.  I refilled the feeders with sugar water, removed those cages so they don't become part of the hive, and put the tops back on.  Things are looking good!

This weekend I'll check on them again. 

Wednesday, April 22, 2015


Thanks to everyone for entering... 
The winners of the apron giveaway are:


Gail  -  from her blog AT THE FARM  (Because I Can)


Anke - from her blog OUR LITTLE PIECE OF HEAVEN  (Canning Queen)

We just need you to email us (use the "email me" button on the sidebar) and let us know the address to send it to.

We love doing these but we hate when not everyone can win.  Thanks for always leaving such kind comments.  There will be another one coming soon!


Recently, we received a package in the mail from a sweet fellow blogger.  
It was heavy (that's always a sign of good things to come, huh?)

Maple syrup products
It was a regular "maple-palooza"!  There were (all gone now!) maple hard candies in a beautifully adorned box (saved the box for something special later on), a huge container of Pennsylvania maple syrup (waffles and pancakes, here we come!), and a tub of maple cream (sometimes called maple butter).  It's pure maple syrup heated to a specific temperature and then whipped, which causes it to change and hold its whipped state.  She said that the best way to eat it was served on warm, fresh baked bread...

Maple Cream on bread
...that was easy (well for me anyway, all I had to do was ask 2nd Man to make some, ha).  Oh my gosh it was SO good.  I might have overdone the first piece, 2nd Man said that it was a bit overly sweet, so the next slice was a thinner slathering...delicious!!

So a big thank you to Jaz at Octoberfarm.  She is a sweet, good, soul.  
We truly appreciate you and are glad to call you 'friend'!

She loves Halloween and all things Witchy!  

P.S.  Giveaway drawing results later tonight!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Not for us, we're not quite ready for that.  Bees yes, but chickens, not quite yet.  Recently however, 2nd Family got some new chicks.  Of course, with the rainy weekends, we weren't able to see them until now and they are not so much "chicks' anymore, ha.  Tween chicks?  Twicks?  LOL!

Anyway, one of "R's" coworkers decided to get some now that they live in the country.  They thought a couple dozen would be a good start.  "R" promptly reminded them, "um, you DO know that means you'll be getting a couple dozen eggs per DAY, right?".  Apparently they hadn't thought that far ahead! 

Seeing as how 2nd Family's girls are getting older, they decided to take a few off their hands.  A random assortment of six, mostly the same.

One of the six however is this adorable girl.  A black "Silkie".  Oh my gosh, it's the softest, fuzziest thing.  The feathers almost seem like fur. 

Black Silkie
And the neatest thing is the feet.  The feathers go all the way down and fluff up around the claws.  It looks like the Clydesdale horse version of a chicken, ha.  Tried to get a good picture but this was the best I could get in a coop full of excitable chickens.  We can't wait to watch her grow up.

Monday, April 20, 2015


So here is the process I went through on Saturday and Sunday.
Lots of pics, be forewarned!  

I drove to the apiary (I love that word) on a gray, overcast day, hoping the rain would hold off (it did).  At the shop, there were packages of bees with queens waiting for their new homes.  Each package had the name of the owner on it so I found ours right away.

They were loaded into the back of the Jeep.  I wanted to use the Fiat, but it's a small car and 20,000 passengers might not fit, LOL.  Driving with humming bees in the back was an interesting experience.  As I stopped at a light, I realized I was one distracted driver away from making the nightly news.

Prior to leaving, a 5th Generation apiarist gave us a live demo on hiving.  He had this great idea to make sure the queen stays.  For the first week or so, he suggests leaving a queen excluder on the bottom of the hive.  The workers can come and go but she can't.  Great idea, so I set ours up that way.

His other method, less stressful on the bees when being 'installed' was to place the package box into the hive box for the first 24 hours.  I simply removed some of the frames to make room, more on that in a bit.  Oh, and I had a spray bottle mixed with sugar water, it calms them as they slow down to eat.

Here's another use for canning jars!  This is called a BOARDMAN FEEDER.  It mounts at the front entrance of the hive and uses an upside down jar filled with sugar water.  Tiny holes in the lid (it comes that way) allow the bees to go underneath and get the 'food'.

The first thing you do before installing the package is to take out the queen cage.  The queen is in a small cage that has a candy plug at one end, covered by a cork.  You remove the cork, exposing the candy stopper to the bees.  They will eat through the candy to get to the queen.  This takes a few days and the time allows them to adapt to their new queen.  Her cage has a little strap that you staple to one of the frames.  You can see the queen excluder below the frame she is attached to (metal wire).

Next comes the new part that he demonstrated.  You put the package carrying all the bees inside the hive and open it.  I was also taught to take a scoop full of bees and 'sprinkle' them over the queen cage.  Needles to say, I couldn't do this AND take a photo at the same time, ha.

Lastly, you put the inner cover on, the roof (or outer cover) on top of that and just leave them alone.  You can see here that a few already started coming out to explore their new home and surroundings. 

Flash forward 24 hours and here it is on Sunday.  I removed the roof and inner cover and pulled out the package.  Sure enough, they were almost all out of the box (will always have a few stragglers).  I simply put the box in front of the hive and in about two hours, it was empty.

In the space where the 'bee box' was, I put the frames with foundation back in.  See where the bees are all clustered?  This is where the queen is!  They are working hard to take care of her and get her out of 'queen jail', ha.  I used my bee brush to gently move them out of the way and put the top back. 
Setting up Langstroth Hives
Here they are, all back together and as you can see, happily gathering around for some dinner.  Believe it or not, I did all of this work without my bee suit.  This will probably be the only time I do that though.  I made slow, gentle, and confident movements, as is always suggested when working with bees.  Never get in a hurry.  I was wearing jeans, long sleeve shirt, gloves and a hat.  Our instructor told us that the bees are at their most docile at this point as they have no real hive to protect, no honey stores to guard, and at this point, no real queen that they are bonded to.  

Now we wait.

Oh, and in case you missed it (late post last night) CLICK HERE to see what we named our hives/queens.

I am off today and will go out to refill the feeder and make sure all is well with the hives in general, and then I will probably go out once more again Wed/Thur before the weekend.  The last step, after about 7 days (which will be Saturday), is to make sure the queen is still there, out of her cage, and then I can remove the excluder (because now she should stay put) and then just leave them alone and let them do their thing.  Bees don't require you to check daily as it creates disruption to the hive.  It sure is tempting though to peek inside!

I know I said this the other day but I'll say it again, it truly was a magical experience.  One of the awesome life experiences I can file away in my mind.  It  made me nervous at first but it was exhilarating at the same time.  

As a friend recently told me, "keeping bees is one of the best ways to be a steward of the land we all share".  So true!

Thank you for bearing with us through the excitement leading up the bee arrival.  Bees might not be everyone's cup of tea, so to speak, but I hope these posts help anyone else just starting out with a Langstroth hive.  I'm still learning myself so I'll keep it up until I, hopefully, become an 'old pro'.  If anyone visiting here is seeking more information, click the "bees" label/tag at the bottom of this post or over to the right under "labels".  Tomorrow we go back to other, regular topics, with bees thrown in as updates happen, ha.  Oh and 2nd Man always likes to draw the names for the giveaway so we'll do that either tonight or tomorrow, depending on what time we get settled in for the evening.

Hope you had an exhilarating weekend too!